California Allocates $116 Million to Preserve Farming and Tribal Lands

California Allocates $116 Million to Preserve Farming and Tribal Lands

The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) approved over $116 million in Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program grants last week to permanently protect approximately 50,500 acres of croplands and rangelands, as well as lands utilized by California Native American tribes for the cultivation of traditional resources. The Ag Land Trust has been awarded over $9 million in grant funds that will allow ALT to permanently preserve over 800 acres of prime farmlands and open spaces from urban sprawl in the Salinas Valley. Additionally, $250,000.00 in grant money has been committed to allowing ALT: 1. to provide increased outreach and staffing to address local minority farm communities and diversity issues for young farmers, 2. to expand Land Trust Alliance accreditation activities, and 3. to increase ALT staffing capacity to address the ever-increasing requests by local landowners and farmers for help in permanently preserving their farms from urban sprawl.

This is the ninth round of annual SALC funding, which is in the process of protecting 244,000 acres of agricultural and working lands statewide, making further progress on California’s goal to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030. "The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program is helping California fight climate change by advancing healthy soils and permanently protecting agricultural and working lands at risk of development,” said Lynn von Koch-Liebert, Executive Director of the California Strategic Growth Council. “What’s exciting this year is that our SALC investments are continuing to take a multi-benefit approach by ensuring those who seek access to land can do so regardless of their background, helping California bolster rural economies and support the health, access, and diversity of California’s land stewards and farmers.”

Investments from this round of funding will create 33 agricultural easements and result in the purchase of 4 properties across 23 counties spanning from San Diego County almost to the Oregon border. When completed, this suite of acquisitions will permanently protect approximately 50,500 acres. Safeguarding this agricultural land will avoid an estimated 4.65 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent over the next 30 years, which amounts to taking 133,424 cars off the road for one year.

SGC has also awarded its second round of SALC capacity grants to 19 capacity building applicants. These projects will facilitate the development of agricultural conservation acquisition projects in 21 counties as far north as Modoc and Humboldt counties and as far south as San Diego County. Of the 19 capacity projects recommended for funding, four are for projects led by tribes or non-profits serving tribes and 12 are from applicants that have never applied for a SALC acquisition grant before.

The Department of Conservation administers the Program on behalf of SGC, developing guidelines, providing technical assistance to applicants, and identifying projects and communities with greatest impact on reducing emissions while protecting California’s valuable natural and working lands. Over the life of the Program, Conservation staff have recommended 283 projects for funding. 

To date, Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) investments have protected 381 square miles of California agricultural and working lands, and or the first time, SALC funding this year will support California tribes with land acquisitions.

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